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‘Short’ long on laffs

Martin's '3 a.m.' with Kline, Baranski a hit at benefit

The bombshell at Sunday night’s benefit perf of “Short Talks on the Universe” was supposed to be Jon Robin Baitz’s stinging portrayal of a big Broadway producer named Jerry (read: the Shuberts’ Gerald Schoenfeld) in the scribe’s playlet “Show People.”

At evening’s end, however, it was Steve Martin who scored the most comic bull’s-eyes with his “3 a.m.” In it, a husband (Kevin Kline) went berzerk as his wife (Christine Baranski) informed him she was having a threeway with Connie Chung and Diane Sawyer — in a bathtub of vodka — while playing the trumpet.

A fund-raiser for Friends in Deed and the Bay Street Theater, the benefit at the Eugene O’Neill theater also included 10-minute works written by Nora Ephron, Jules Feiffer, Tony Kushner, Elaine May and Terrence McNally, and performed by Alec Baldwin, Ellen Barkin, Angela Lansbury and Bette Midler, among others.

When it came time for curtain-call thank-yous, presenter and Sawyer mate Mike Nichols singled out Martin’s “3 a.m.” with the crack, “Before tonight, I always thought of Steve as a good friend.”

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